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Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities


NUMBER 077 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, December 7, 2017

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1530)  

[English]

     Good afternoon, everybody.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Thursday, November 9, 2017, the committee is resuming its study on experiential learning and pathways to employment for Canadian youth. Today the committee will be hearing from witnesses on the subject of youth unemployment.
    I have a reminder for witnesses that interpretation is available for witnesses through the earpieces provided, and please, for our folks in the booth and their eardrums, keep the earpieces away from the microphones as much as possible.
     We have with us today via video conference from Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, Lawrence Slaney, director of training, United Association Canada.
    Can you hear me, sir?
    Welcome.
    In person, we have with us Alain Tremblay, executive director, internship and workplace services, Université de Sherbrooke, appearing as an individual.
    Welcome.

[Translation]

[English]

    From the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, we have Colleen Mooney, executive director. From the Pathfinder Youth Centre Society, we have Orville Lee, president and co-founder, and Ruth Lee, executive director and co-founder.
    Welcome, all of you.
    Each of you will receive seven minutes. If you see me make a signal, it means you have one minute left, but don't panic. You'll have a lot of time to wrap up and, of course, we'll follow all the opening statements with questions from around the table.
    To kick us off this afternoon is Mr. Lawrence Slaney, director of training, from United Association Canada.
    The next seven minutes are yours, sir.
     Okay.
    I just got this from my boss a couple of days ago. I wasn't quite sure exactly what you were looking for, but I tried to answer the questions that were posed on the link I received from the website.
    To give you a little preamble first, I'm the director of training for Canada and a representative of the United Association in Canada. I represent 56,000 members, including 10,000 apprentices in the piping trades. That's plumbers, pipefitters, welders, sprinkler fitters, refrigeration mechanics, and all that. Our organization represents 340,000 members total, including in the U.S., and we have been in operation since 1889 as an organization. We are the largest private training organization in North America outside both U.S. and Canadian militaries. Our annual budget is around $270 million a year. That's paid for by our membership.
     What in my background qualifies me to speak to you today? I have about 40 years in the trades, multiple certifications and training completed, and involvement at every level of training for youth in apprenticeship and technical careers. I will speak to you on some of the points you outlined. Again, this was short notice for me; I wasn't quite sure what you were looking for, so I didn't do anything formal.
    With respect to youth underemployment after completing their education, the different organizations that collect information on youth and trades and apprenticeship in Canada have told us that the age of apprentices gets higher every year, with some as old as 29 just starting in their career as a tradesperson. They usually have several courses already completed, with some of them obtaining certificates in business or education. We get apprentices all the time who have multiple certifications from universities and colleges. They spent their youth learning something that they did not consider wisely: it either did not have a job or career waiting for them or it was based on personal interest and not economics.
    These are choices that must be made early in life. Youth must have direction early to avoid these types of mistakes. Many times the advice they get on career choices does not include trades, apprenticeships, or technical careers because of the traditional push for higher education. That has not changed in many years, or since I've been around, anyway. It leads to many highly educated people who have no work opportunity or career to follow. They are left with large debt loads to repay.
    With respect to youth unemployment and how it harms the transition to the workforce, there are projected to be over 500,000 positions available for trades workers in Canada in the next five to 10 years, with huge numbers of highly skilled tradespeople retiring. The immigration department is working overtime to find out how they will process all the people they are planning to bring into Canada to fill this shortfall, and how they will find and assess the right skilled workers to fill these positions.
    Government policy has a huge effect on apprenticeships and youth with the cancellation of, for example, the TransCanada east-west pipeline. This will result in hundreds of apprentices not being able to complete their terms. With the resulting unemployment, they will probably turn to another form of work to make ends meets. Our industry must always plan tentatively when the political will of the country arbitrarily cancels megaprojects like the east-west pipeline and the LNG plant in British Columbia. There's a huge list of these projects that come and go. This creates issues for companies, construction workers, and architects alike when planning their future, which is based on that economic reality.
    With respect to volunteerism and internships and how they inform work decisions for students, volunteering in any form is a great way for youth to see how the world has treated others—especially those who have lost their health, fallen on hard times, or so on. I can't say enough about that. Internships with companies and organizations are a great thing as well, and give students and workers a great perspective. However, when it comes to trades and technology students, many times the interns are free or much cheaper than an apprentice who is trying to start their career. These apprentices end up either not completing their apprenticeship or must leave their community to find work elsewhere to be successful. This is especially problematic when many training centres and colleges are completing large numbers of trainees. I'll use Ontario and British Columbia especially as examples. On the surface it's a great idea for some fields of work, but it's not a great thing for the trades or technical workers.
    The fourth area is the school-to-work transition strategy in Canada compared with international models and programs. The international models used in Germany, Norway, and Ireland are examples of the European way of preparing youth for a future in the world. We studied why their system has a much younger component in the trades and technology fields especially, with a very young age for apprentices compared to the Canadian workplace. I was in Dublin last year to meet with the government, union, and industry representatives in Ireland, with a delegation from our industry. This included a representative from the Red Seal secretariat. We saw their method of getting young people involved with their credit system that awards credit for all schooling toward higher education, something that is lacking here in Canada.
     Germany has a system where their high schools have apprenticeship credits that go toward their future in the trades or technology sectors if that is where they want to go. They are directed to pick a stream-of-work opportunity before they ever leave school, and can change if needed but take their credit with them toward another field of work. This translates to mobility across the European Union for workers, where in Canada we have no recognition, which stops workers from going to another province, let alone another country. Our system must evolve in the way it does things to catch up to the systems used internationally.

  (1535)  

     There are too many government regulators involved in apprenticeship, with a system in which every province has autonomy and does its own thing without the full opinions of the industry being considered. The best model for apprenticeship includes a tripartite approach with government including specialists in apprenticeship; worker groups including union and non-union in an equal mix; and industry, including clients, owners, and contractors, whose futures are at stake when projects don't go right and whose costs escalate because they don't have people with the right skills for the job. We all have a vested interest in the success of a project and must work together to get the right skills.
    The model for training in apprenticeship is proven and has mostly not changed since the code of Hammurabi defined the first master-servant working relationship that was apprenticeship in 2500 B.C. The people who define how it is regulated and who decide what is to be taught and who pays have changed greatly, and in my experience, if things are done in a correct balance, in which all of the parties listen to each other and everyone has a real say in the final product, then you will get a great product at the end.
    In many areas, government regulates completely and industry or worker groups are consulted intermittently. This must change for a functional and progressive apprenticeship system to happen and for the future of the country.
    With regard to co-op programs and work-integrated learning, any form of hands-on program that does not send apprentices or technicians into the real world for hands-on skills and then bring them back again to increase their knowledge is not going to be successful in our workplaces. The model of apprenticeship that has worked for us at UA Canada for over 125 years is training with work experience, with more training, with more work experience, and so on. The model we have been using for so long defines our workforce and it is the same model that is used by doctors and other people in the health field.
     Working under a skilled tradesperson in the field is where over 80% of the knowledge transfer happens for the apprentice. Work-integrated learning sounds very much like apprenticeship; however, when there is no master technician, tradesperson, doctor, or other certified person overseeing the work and making corrections, coaching, passing on their knowledge of how to complete the work successfully and productively, it fails in its approach.
    UA Canada is embarking on a new system for learning that will use augmented virtual mixed realities to teach people anywhere in the world in our fields of expertise, and this will be blended with other technologies, like online e-learning, self-paced, traditional classroom, and many other methods of getting the learning across. However, we will not abandon the principle of having a qualified journey person, technician, or master skilled worker mentoring the worker, overseeing their education in the field, and giving them the benefit of years of experience in their field of expertise. This key principle has worked for thousands of years and cannot be replaced with technology, not yet anyway.
    Entrepreneurship is something we are a big believer in for our people. Many of our very largest contractors started out in their field of work as tradespeople or other forms of workers. They learned on the job, completed further training with the UA or with other institutions, and went on to become very successful in their industry. It is a process that should be encouraged at all levels, throughout all programs, as part of the training every trades and technical student receives.
    That's it. I don't know if that really fit with what you were looking for. I wasn't quite sure.

  (1540)  

    That is great, and I'm sure we'll have some follow-up questions for you, sir. Thank you very much.
    Now, we'll go to Mr. Tremblay.
     The next seven minutes are yours.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, distinguished committee members, thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce what we see as the DNA of the Université de Sherbrooke, its co-operative education program.
    I would especially like to thank the Hon. Steven Blaney for inviting me. Mr. Blaney obtained a degree in civil engineering from our university in 1988.
    In 1966, the Université de Sherbrooke became the first Quebec university, and the second university in Canada, after Waterloo, to make co-operative education its trademark. Fifty-two years later, almost 5,000 students per year gain paid work experience in a company in Canada or elsewhere in the world. Thanks to our co-operative internships, students at our university in certain programs finish their studies with almost two years of experience to their credit.
    The total amount of the salaries paid to those students exceeds $36 million per year. The concept of co-operative education was invented in 1906 by Professor Herman Schneider, in the faculty of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
    The concept was founded on the two following observations. First, each profession has characteristics that can only be learned by practical work experience in that profession. Second, most students have to take a part-time job during their studies in order to pay for their needs.
    Professor Schneider therefore conceived of a system that would allow students to practice their future careers as they earned income from their work. Under his direction, the engineering program at Cincinnati developed a school year in which periods in the classroom alternated with periods at work. It is important to emphasize that the responsibility to find work in the students' fields of study rests with the university, with the institution.
    Co-operative education was therefore born from the collaboration between teaching institutions and the workplace. At the moment, the Université de Sherbrooke offers 48 programs with the co-operative structure. While engineering programs were the first, programs in administration, science, law and arts quickly followed.
    The universities and colleges in Canada that offer these programs come together in a national association. It is responsible for granting accreditation in the Canadian co-operative model. At its annual meeting last November, the association broadened its mandate to become Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada, or CEWIL Canada. The name change was necessary because of a number of Canadian initiatives to include other forms of integrated work experiences. The objective is clear: to make sure that those initiatives have standards as rigorous as those in co-operative internships.
    This opening up of our association's mandate coincides with an announcement from the Minister of Employment, Workforce, and Labour, Hon. Patricia Hajdu. In fact, last summer, the minister announced a program creating 10,000 new practical internships for students over the next five years. The initiative also seeks to establish lasting partnerships between industry and post-secondary education institutions.
    I have to mention that we are contemplating the deployment of this program with some apprehension. In fact, the discussions we have had with our partners reveal a very clear under-representation of Quebec in the consortia that bring together employers and universities. We can already state that access to the funds will be difficult for SMEs in Quebec. So I would like to use this platform provided to me today to ask for your support, so that the funds will be distributed equitably in all regions of the country. I would also venture a suggestion: because of its enormous experience, our association could make its expertise available to those programs in order to ensure their success. I know that communication channels are currently open. The authorities involved just have to accept our offer.
    I would now like to briefly mention an initiative of the Université de Sherbrooke that is designed to encourage new Canadians to take their place in co-operative programs and the labour market. National statistics and our own practice demonstrate the major difficulty that graduates from certain cultural communities have in getting into the labour market, even despite a labour shortage. This observation led us, in collaboration with various services and faculties, to develop a program to help international students better understand the labour market in Quebec and Canada. This initiative provides participants with training on the labour market and its history, as well as on its main rules and customs.
    The training deals with job interviews, resumés and covering letters. Then, students in the program receive personal coaching from employment counsellors who are specially assigned for the purpose. They help them, prepare them for interviews and provide feedback. With this program, we are wagering that integrating the students will be easier and their performance in the employment process will be better.

  (1545)  

    By way of conclusion, I would like to leave you with the following message.
    The history of co-operative education in Canada proves that it is a productive road to the labour market. Not only do the students who take that road have greater success in their school programs, but their integration into the labour market is also easier. Our internal statistics show that more than 50% of the students who were part of a co-op program find employment with the company for which they have done an internship.
    Reciprocally, companies are turning more and more to those programs in order to hire their new employees. The companies have understood that welcoming a co-op intern is a productive way to fill both a temporary need and a staffing requirement over the long term.
    Two challenges facing the Canadian economy are the labour shortage and the development of skills. Initiatives like the student work-integrated learning program and Mitacs are intended to meet those challenges. Canada can count on very skilled resources who are ready to do what is necessary to make those initiatives a success. A service like mine and an association like CEWIL Canada have expertise that is recognized around the world and we are ready to put that expertise at Canada's disposal. All that remains is for you to make appropriate use of us.
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce you to our expertise. We look forward to being able to participate in the development of our wonderful country.

[English]

     Thank you very much. I look forward to following up with some questions in a few moments.
    Up next is Colleen Mooney, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.
    Thank you to the committee for inviting Boys and Girls Club to present as part of this important study.
    Although I'm the executive director in Ottawa, I'm actually here on behalf of Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. Normally, you would be hearing from my lovely director of public policy, Rachel Gouin, but she's not available, so I'm the pinch-hitter. I hope you'll bear with me.
    We're here to share what the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada are doing in terms of supporting experiential learning and shining a light on the pathways to employment for youth. For those of you who aren't familiar with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, we're a national charity. We serve about 210,000 members across the country in 625 locations. Here in Ottawa, we have about 4,500 youth who are members. We have seven locations, including a large summer camp just outside Ottawa.
    Typically across the country you will find us located in vulnerable, at-risk neighbourhoods, so the kids we see are typically from low-income families. We see lots and lots of new Canadians, indigenous youth, and many others. We find that these kids have less social capital and they need extra help to finish high school, pursue post-secondary education, and make what is for many of them that difficult transition to employment. This is not because they are in any way less talented. Our kids live in impoverished conditions and they experience difficult social environments. They don't have access to the same networks and leadership and learning opportunities that their more privileged peers do. Our programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs remedy this disadvantage and ensure that youth reach their potential.
    Today I'd like to draw your attention to two programs that help youth gain knowledge and experience that they need to make decisions about their future and successfully transition into and be able to keep a job. They are the Employment and Social Development skills link program and the Canada summer jobs program.
    First, through the skills link program and in partnership with the private sector partner Kal Tire, 30 Boys and Girls Clubs across the country will introduce 600 youths to the skilled trades this year. Youths are able to learn about the different trades, actually meet tradespeople in their community, and then job shadow those same tradespeople.
    Last year we leveraged this great partnership with the Canadian government to secure additional private sector funding from Cara Operations, so we just started a hospitality-focused Skilled4Success training program and job placement pilot in 10 communities across Ottawa. I have to say that in Ottawa, we are very lucky. We are one of the 10 pilot sites, and this program has already started. The youth are incredibly excited about it. They've already had significant numbers of job shadowing opportunities. Our private sector partner Cara Operations is also very happy with this program, because they believe that they will be able to place many of the youth who are in this program. This is just the kind of program that our youth need, and we are very grateful for the government's support.
    The second program I'd like to highlight today, which is near and dear to my heart, is the Canada summer jobs program. This is the most significant federal program for Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. We are very pleased that the government saw fit to double this program recently. In 2017, the clubs across Canada hired 660 high school, college, and university students up from, in 2013, only 192 students, so that's a very significant improvement for us.
    One thing we've noticed about this program, though, is that the number of weeks allocated doesn't often meet the needs of our youth. Eight weeks of employment works very well for high school students, but with students attending college and university, with the ever-increasing tuition costs, this is very difficult. They need to work for the 16 weeks that they are off in the summer. As well, I can speak from experience, having had many Canada summer jobs students, when I say that the eight weeks fly by very quickly, and students would gain a better employment experience and exposure to a lot more parts of work if there were a greater number of weeks. We would ask that the government take this into consideration as it reviews the program.

  (1550)  

    We also believe the Canada summer jobs program could be improved by opening it up to youth who are not full-time students. Preparing for this presentation made me think of a lovely young woman who's a staff person at one of our clubs in Ottawa. She was a Syrian refugee who came to Canada about six years ago, ahead of the most recent influx. She didn't speak any English. It was through sheer will and determination that she finished high school and has gone on just recently—I guess she's in her second year now—to Algonquin College. Her parents have been unable to learn enough English to be employed, and her younger brother is disabled. Therefore, this young woman is the primary breadwinner for her family. It's just not possible for her to work full time. Therefore she is not eligible for the Canada summer jobs program.
    She's not alone. We see this with a lot of our kids, a lot of the low-income and newcomer youths are disqualified from the Canada summer jobs program because they're not full-time students. They just can't afford to go to school full time because they have to work as well.
    We would like all youths to benefit regardless of their student status.
    Again, thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this study. I look forward to any questions you might have.

  (1555)  

    Excellent.
    Knowing the Boys and Girls Club very well myself, I thank you for being here and thank you for the work that you do.
    From Pathfinder Youth Centre Society, we have both Orville Lee, president and co-founder, and Ruth Lee, executive director and co-founder here with us today.
    The next seven minutes are yours.
     Good afternoon, all. Thank you for this honour.
     We've been working with youth for the past 14 years. We started out as foster parents initially, and based on the gaps in services and the different things that we saw were needed, we created the Pathfinder Youth Centre Society. It is a non-profit charitable organization that works with at-risk youth, youth in care with the ministry, and youth with different cognitive disabilities.
     We then branched out to working with Community Living British Columbia, CLBC, which is an organization that funds individuals who have an IQ of lower than 70 and, obviously, a lot of mental challenges. Some of them are in their fifties or sixties chronologically, but they're basically 10 to 18 years of age. That's the demographic we've dealt with, and we're noticing with the programs we run that there's a large increase in that population.
     We service Vancouver, obviously, and the Lower Mainland, and we have an office, or a centre, in Maple Ridge. It's good to see a familiar face from Maple Ridge here. We also service Surrey, where our second location is.
     The body of our discussion will be based on the youth who we've worked with and their journey. The challenges we face are the multiple barriers for youth, as well as dual diagnosis, and the most common disabilities we face with a lot of the intakes that we do are anxiety, depression, and the autism spectrum. Also, we see a lot of drug-entrenched and street-entrenched youth. These challenges raise concerns for future vocational success, as do mental health issues, and it's essential that they get service in terms of searching for, obtaining, and retaining meaningful employment.
    With so many youth suffering with mental health problems, it hinders them from being able to develop the social skills required in the workforce, such as interpersonal skills, group work, and confidence in their own abilities. This is a huge societal problem that's going to affect our future generation of workers and will have a negative impact on the economy in terms of high turnover rates, increased medical costs, and shortages of able workers. Statistics show that if a youth or individual is under the autism spectrum, the cost to society and the system is about $2.4 million over the lifespan of that individual. There's a strong need to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and increase the accessibility of services so these youth can feel safe in expressing themselves and can seek help without fear of isolation and rejection.
    Tackling mental health awareness is a preventative tool that will lead to the overall future success and quality of life for our youth. Many of our youth are not getting proper assessments, which in turn poses a problem with placing them in jobs and sets them up for failure. Some of the solutions that we've been able to realize, for example, are customized programs for youth based on their skill sets and abilities.
    For example, we have been working for about four years with a young man who came to our program. He's in the autism spectrum, so that means isolation, anxiety, and things of that nature. Through informal training and customized programs, we were able to transition him from working in our office doing vacuuming. Through encouragement and supports, and just through him taking ownership of a job and getting self-confidence, he transitioned into a local community college. Based on a lot of that informal training that we were able to assist him with, he's flourishing right now. In that program they provide, he's able to do a lot of job shadowing. Because of the informal training that we were able to give him previous to him going there, he was able to get that self-confidence and to get the support and overcome the anxiety, and now, as I said, he's flourishing.
    Also, we have solutions that provide consistent support and mentorship. We have a 24-7 hotline, as we call it, for youth who are in crisis or who have any type of issues. They can contact us, and there's that support for them. Also, we increase the confidence and self-esteem, which I alluded to earlier, through strong relationship-building by our teams throughout our organizations. It's very consistent, with everyone on the same page in terms of encouragement and assisting with improving youths' self-esteem and confidence in themselves.

  (1600)  

     We also like to focus on their abilities rather than the disabilities. Our programs are tailor-made that way. In some cases, proper assessment and medication will definitely assist to get these results. Continual life skills and employment programs, which we have at Pathfinder—we'll get into that later on—also involve community partners. We've had the blessing of being able to connect with a lot of restaurants, hotels, and businesses in the community that assist us with our youth.
    For example, we've connected with an organization called the Wrap Around team. This organization consists of RCMP officers whose role is to identify individuals who are marginalized or who have disabilities, whether they be mental health disabilities or any type of barriers. We work as a cohesive team and unit to assist individuals with transitioning from that situation they're in, and then we involve them in our job-training programs. School counsellors, mental health workers, probation officers, and the ministry of children and families are some stakeholders and key team players that we bring on board to provide these holistic programs.
    Also, we believe that taking the time to figure out what the challenges are—investing the time—will help them in the long run. Sometimes the employment issue is not about employment itself, but about the life skills and about learning to cope with the daily challenges. Having someone there to support them from the sidelines is crucial.
    In terms of employment solutions, as I alluded to earlier, we've created in-house jobs for some of our youth. Also, we've partnered with employers in the community, partners who understand some of the disabilities that we're dealing with. We advocate strongly for them.
    One of our programs or projects that we're going to be launching shortly is a thrift store. This is near and dear to our hearts, the reason being that it's a one-stop shop where our youth will have the ability to learn in a controlled environment. Keep in mind that we're dealing with anxiety and all these other issues. There, they'll have the ability to learn from friendly individuals first, in a safe environment. They're learning the basics of retail sales. They're overcoming their anxieties. We have that opportunity in real time to correct, to teach, to nurture, and to assist them with getting past the anxieties. If we identify that they need more supports, we can deal with that in-house before we send them out into the community to go out and work, where sometimes, as we all know, they may fail.
    I'm going to have Ruth discuss that particular project a bit.
    In about a minute or so, please.
    Most of our programs are skills development programs funded by HRDC. This has the same components. We want to tailor it to mimic the Service Canada programs that we have now. It's six weeks of life skills training in-house with certifications. We usually have 13 weeks of work experience where we send them off into the community to employers, but for this one we'd like to keep them in-house for five weeks, work out all the kinks and what makes them nervous, and allow them to feel secure in their environment so the message can penetrate into not just their minds but their souls and so their confidence level increases.
     We want to lead by example. We want to implement all the knowledge they have and the theory they've learned and put it into play through practice.
    After those five weeks, we set them free, and they go into the workforce and to employers with which we currently work, with Cineplex being one of our greatest advocates. They are so amazing. They give the youth an opportunity, and they understand the level of anxiety and depression that all these guys are working with.
    Currently in our employment programs, our success rate is about 80% to 85%. There's nothing new about what we do as a family here. It's all about bringing it back to basics, bringing it back to simplicity, and bringing it back to love.
    Thank you.

  (1605)  

    Thank you very much.
    We are going to start with Mr. Blaney.

[Translation]

    It is an honour for me to speak today.

[English]

     Thanks to all of you.
    I would say that in many ways you are shaping Canada's future, whether it's helping the young who are far from the labour market or people with skills who want to get a job and, let's say, work on a pipeline. I'll say that from this side.

[Translation]

    I would like to go back to what you said, Mr. Tremblay, because your words certainly touched me. The Université de Sherbrooke is indeed my alma mater. Going to Sherbrooke to study engineering was one of the good decisions I have made in my life. Unfortunately, thereafter, I became involved in politics, but that is another story.
    You talked about 10,000 practical internships. You praised Minister Hajdu's initiative in announcing those 10,000 practical internships. However, you told us about your concerns in two areas, one of which is the fact that Quebec is not represented.
    Can you tell us how we can make sure that the program is a success in Quebec? If so, is there French wording, a French name?
    Those are the two questions I would like to ask; I would like to hear your comments on them.
    How do we make sure that a federal program is represented in Quebec? We all know about the relationship between the provincial government and the federal government. I have talked to provincial government officials and there seems to be no reciprocity between the two levels of government. Usually, money is transferred to the province for similar programs. At present, there seems to be nothing at all of that kind, unless I am not fully up to date. At the moment, that is how things stand.
    So at least, without resorting to quotas, we have to make sure that a part of the money comes to us.
    What is the program exactly? Is it about financial assistance to students?
    Yes, it is financial assistance to the tune of $5,000. The $5,000 is a grant to create a new internship.
    Take Bombardier Recreational Products as an example. They already provide hundreds of internships per year. BRP will receive money if it creates 101 or 102 internships. At the moment, the money is turned over to committees or to national associations like ECO Canada or BioTalent Canada, who have to manage the money for the government. Most of the national associations that manage this money for the government are based in Toronto. Often, only the first page of their website is in French, and it is difficult for them to provide services in both official languages.
    In other words, the federal government has turned its program over to third-party agencies that do not necessarily have roots in Quebec. Is that what you are saying?
    Exactly.
    Actually, that is one of the major points, I feel.
    That is a problem.
    I think we have to be wary. At the moment, the program is brand new. It was actually launched in August. The federal government recognized five associations. Accreditation for five other associations is in the works.
    I am looking for them to at least ensure that the associations are sensitive to the reality of Quebec.
    Does CEWIL Canada have a French name?
    Yes. CEWIL Canada is l'Enseignement coopératif et l’apprentissage en milieu de travail Canada, the voice for co-operative education opportunities in Canada.
    Okay.
    Of course, we are the second biggest francophone university to be part of the association. The École de technologie supérieure is more or less part of it.
    One of my objectives is certainly to come closer to that association. Up to now, the association people have been sensitive to that reality.
    Mr. Chair, how much time do I have left?

[English]

    You have two minutes.
    I'm going to try to switch to Newfoundland, Mr. Slaney. You've mentioned that entrepreneurship is important for you. How do you feel about entrepreneurship in the context of what we're talking about here in Ottawa, which is tax reform? We don't know how it will impact businesses. You've mentioned that you were disappointed by the fact that the pipeline won't be built. Do you think government can play a role in stimulating those important projects that create jobs?

  (1610)  

    In my talks with the pipeline companies, I always hear from them that the biggest issue they have is not getting pipeline approvals or not getting the work allocated and all that kind of stuff, the permitting and that kind of thing. In the conditions set out by government and by the regulators, they could have as many as 200 to 300 conditions that have to be met. These can range anywhere from approval from every single resident of a particular community to.... They're just unbelievable requirements that are impossible to reach.
    The amount of work that could have been generated by that TransCanada pipeline was immense in our industry, with the piping and all the trades that support it, and all the service industries and everything else that goes with that. It's a massive amount of work, and it could have meant the regeneration of the refinery in Montreal. The largest refinery in Canada, in Saint John, New Brunswick, would have doubled in size. Irving was ready to double that completely, if you want them directly—
    Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you.
    Mr. Lawrence Slaney: The amount of work from it is huge. It's massive.
     There is a refinery in my riding too, in front of Quebec City, sir, so we certainly would benefit from it. We'd both benefit—Newfoundland and Quebec.
    Thank you.
    Next up we have MP Ruimy, please.
    Thank you, everybody, for coming and presenting today.
    Ruth, Orville, I love having you here.
    Mr. Dan Ruimy: As you know, I am a big fan of your program. I have some quick questions. Over the course of the year, how many folks do you put through the program?
    Right now we're on a three-year contract that will touch 302 youths.
    How many have you turned away in the past?
    Oh, we've had so many, because usually per intake we have anywhere from 13 to 15 seats, and about 100 youth apply.
    Wow. How many intakes are there in a year?
    Three.
    That's a lot who are turned down.
    Now, how do you turn them down. You base it on what?
    We try not to turn them down coldly. We kind of give them something to work on while the next intake happens. There is a way that we select the youth. We're trying to look for that hunger that they want to be employed at the end of it. We give them a little homework to go back to, and then we bring them back. We mentor them. Everything we do is intertwined with mentorship. Even though they're not in our program, they're certainly in our mentorship program. The wait-list consists of building relationships until the next intake happens.
    Of the people you do accept, how many of them are challenged in, say, life skills? You have people who come in and who are going to teach them how to do resumés. That's really the skills link training program. How many of them need a lot more than that?
    A hundred per cent.
    A hundred per cent.
    Ms. Ruth Lee: Yes.
    Mr. Dan Ruimy: Why is that?
    I don't know; pressures of life. A lot of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds. A lot of them are undiagnosed in terms of mental health, with anxiety and depression. Some families don't want to embrace that their child has that, so care is not ever taken. As Orville said, we deal a lot with foster children, kids in care. At the age of 18, they're cut off the system and they're wavering around.
    Going back to the ones who have post-secondary education, the ones we see through our doors are the ones who never complete university. Due to their mental health, the pressures of university just break them down.
    A voice: It's misdiagnosis sometimes.
    Ms. Ruth Lee: Yes.
    The challenge that I am running into is this. The program has moved around—17 weeks to 10 weeks or whatever it is—but even at 17 weeks—
    It's not enough time.

  (1615)  

    —it's not enough time. Do we have an overly high expectation of, let's say, the skills link training program?
    Yes.
    The skills link program is very defined. Then we have this other thing that's going on, and that's everybody's responsibility. It's the provinces, the municipalities, and that sort of stuff.
    Tell me a little bit more about your thrift store. To me, experiential learning is “Let me get my hands on it, let me touch it, let me feel it, and I'll get excited”. Tell us a little more about that.
    I think the panel alluded to hands-on in terms of training, internship, and apprenticeship. Those are all intertwined with hands-on, with having somebody there to guide you and lead you. Sometimes there's too much theory. These youths learn by hearing, but a lot of them are visual and hands-on. Those are the kinds of gifts we try to pull out and let shine: “It's okay that you can't read a paragraph, but, man, can you build this. Let's focus on trying to get you into a trade where you're constantly working with your hands.”
    That's what we're trying to say: build on their abilities and not their disabilities.
    Have you been able to tap into any funding for your thrift store?
    Not yet, no. We're on hold. We actually did receive a letter saying that we're not funded “right now”. We hang on strong to this.
    Mr. Dan Ruimy: It doesn't mean no.
    Ms. Ruth Lee: It doesn't mean no. We'll continue going on.
     It's a never give up attitude. Okay.
    Moving along, some of your students have actually come to my office, and a lot of them don't get.... I say to them that they could go and get a student loan or a grant and take a care aide program. I mean, we've talked here about seniors and the struggles they have. We need more care aides. We need more people working in seniors homes. The jobs are there, but there's a lack of getting people into training for that. It's only a one-year program. When I've mentioned that to some of the folks who have come into my office, their first reaction has been, “Oh, no, I don't want a student loan.” I'm trying to understand why when that's their best way to get to a job.
    Do you have those conversations with them?
    We never get to that level after they graduate.
    Not even.
    No. It's overwhelming. We kind of chop things up in little pieces and let them digest it piece by piece.
    It's just like when you graduate at 17 and you get asked, “What are you going to do? Which university are you going to?” Nine times out of 10, they don't even complete, or midway they figure out, “This is really not my gift. This is not what I want to do.” Then they've wasted all that time.
    We try to inject little things. The certification that we provide opens up many industries. They get a taste of a bit of everything. Everything we do is basic skills that will get them employed.
    My time is up, but can you submit to the clerk some of your programs so that we can have that in evidence? I'm thinking of the thrift store, for instance.
    Yes.
    Mr. Dan Ruimy: Thank you.
    Thank you.
    Now over to MP Sansoucy, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    My thanks also to the witnesses for making their presentations.
    My first questions go to you, Mr. Tremblay. As you said, the expertise you have developed is very relevant for our study. In situations like this, I find it important to not reinvent the wheel. If expertise already exists and has been developed, I feel that we should make use of it. I represent the constituency of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. A lot of our young people go to Sherbrooke to study and it is basically because of the co-op program.
    Looking at the survey you conducted on the placement rates of graduates, which you call “La Relance” is very interesting. We can see that 47% of those graduating from undergraduate programs earned their degrees in the co-op program, which places you second. The percentage is far higher than the national average of 12%. We can also see that 28% of those graduates found their first job as a result of the internship they did during their studies.
    Are you saying that half the students in the co-op program find employment because of their co-op placement?
    That's right. We say half of them, or more. In computer science, for example, we receive eight placement offers per student. So, at the moment, we are short of students, as are almost all the universities in Canada. In certain areas, the demand is far greater than the number of students we can supply.

  (1620)  

    Are you saying that the impact of co-op placements on job searches at graduation is positive, even for those who are not part of the co-op program?
    Let us say that, in a university like ours, those students benefit from our brand. An engineering student completing his program with two years of experience under his belt is a more mature student who knows what working in a company means. Going from studies to employment is much easier.
    Okay.
    We also read that 70% of the graduates work full time in their field.
    Is the rate higher for graduates from the co-op program?
    For them, it is 100%.
    However, we are told that only 10% of graduate students have done a co-op program.
    What are the obstacles there?
    The rules of the co-op system require students to accumulate at least 30% of their experience in the workplace. Graduate programs, for masters and doctoral degrees, are much shorter. So it is difficult to switch between work and study. That is why we are currently considering new programs that would allow people wanting to do graduate work to do a course that, thanks to Mitacs, includes a co-op component directly in a job. They would start with a work period, which would be something very new.
    As you were saying, federal-provincial relations are not always easy, especially in the field of education, which is an area of jurisdiction that Quebec guards jealously.
    There are services under federal jurisdiction, where it is our call, such as newcomers and indigenous education.
    You said you had a specific program for international students. What are the principal obstacles you have to deal with when you try to place those particular students?
    Actually, it can be the students' poor grasp of the labour market in Canada and in Quebec. Or it can be that some companies lack awareness of the students' realities.
    Ironically, we have international students accepting placements in Saguenay, Abitibi or the Côte Nord, because the people there are ready to accept them. Areas like that have such a labour shortage that they are ready to accept international students.
    So we do a lot of promotion for the international students outside the major centres, where there may be a sort of pejorative image of some international students.
    So the difference is not in certain types of jobs or certain types of employers, but in the geography.
    The geography, yes, but it is also more general. We may want to accept a student in our nursing science program. But often, recognition from the professional associations becomes more and more difficult. The obstacles to employment are not necessarily with the companies, but also with specific professional associations.
    Do First Nations students use your internship and placement service?
    There are very few at the Université de Sherbrooke.
    The University of Victoria is where most First Nations students are. We were actually there a month ago. The University of Victoria has great programs. About 5% to 7% of their students are from First Nations. The university has developed specific programs for First Nations students and the programs run very well.
    We will keep that in mind and go and have a look.
    Do I have any time left, Mr. Chair?

[English]

     You have 25 seconds.

[Translation]

    You are participating in some national level research called “From Learning to Work—Student Survey”.
    If you do not have the time to answer our questions, it would be helpful if you could send our clerk a description of the research project, the Université de Sherbrooke's participation, any results that are available at the moment, and any trends that can be seen.
    I will gladly send that to the committee.

[English]

    Thank you very much.
    Now over to MP Fortier, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I thank the witnesses for their presentations. It is very important to see what is going on in the country.

[English]

    I have a couple of questions for Ms. Mooney, as I know the Boys and Girls Club is an organization that has a lot of expertise and has been working with at-risk youth.
     I was wondering if you could explain why we see that some youth slip. We lose them. They fall through the cracks. We try to find ways to get them back on track.
    I am wondering if there any programs or ideas we should be working on to get back not only students, but also youth at risk who fall through the cracks.

  (1625)  

    Yes, that definitely is a problem. We see some of those kids at the Boys and Girls Club. We work very closely with those youth to get them through high school.
     For some of them, it's just so challenging because of language, for example, a lot of the Syrian refugees. The younger kids who are in grades 1 and 2 are going to be fine, but when those kids who are coming are in grades 9 and 10, that's a lot more difficult. Trying to help that group finish school is quite challenging.
    One of the things we hoped for at the Boys and Girls Club was that eventually there would be some kind of federal program, in addition to Canada summer jobs, that would help support those kids who maybe aren't in education and aren't employed, and give them some kind of employment experience that hopefully would light a spark or help them find something they're good at.
    I love what everybody on the panel said, because I think it's true. Experiential learning and finding out what lights a fire under these kids is really going to help them to be successful. If you believe what the former governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, said, we have a productivity problem in Canada. I often say to donors, don't do it for our kids; do it for your kids. There are a lot of kids out there who are struggling to even finish high school and then go on to post-secondary. If we let that whole generation slide into unemployment, it will hurt the country as a whole.
     I know that in Ottawa—Vanier, the club is very active with aboriginal youth.
    How can we work closely with the aboriginal youth across Canada? Do you have any suggestions? I know that in the Ottawa—Vanier riding, there have been experiences and successes that we should look at. Could you share that with us?
    We've tried to work across the country, but in particular in Vanier, with the other organizations that are serving aboriginal youth, like the Wabano Centre and the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre.
    I think it's working in partnership with those who serve particularly the aboriginal youth, and being culturally sensitive. The issues for them are somewhat the same. At the Vanier location, we used to house the alternative high school for aboriginal youth. That was a very important learning experience for us in understanding what was important to them and how to help them be successful. I think it's a partnership model.
    Certainly, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada are embarking across Canada with aboriginal organizations.
    I'm also trying to understand your relationship with employers, because we need for them to be on board.
     What's the formula to engage employers to work with youth at risk and understand that they have talents and passions also? Can you share that with us?
    I think that's what's been so great about the skills link program, and what's been very powerful in terms of engaging private sector employers to work with us and with the government on that. I think that's a key program to continue. I would encourage the continuance of that, just helping kids get that experience that they need to move on.
    I wish I had the answer for that. Youth employment is a passion of mine, and I've been working a lot on it. I wish I had the answer to how we could engage more employers. It's something I'm concerned about. I hear employers say to educational institutions all the time, “You haven't prepared these youth well enough for the workforce.”
    On the other hand, I think this focus on increasing shareholder value has caused many employers to cut training programs. They expect these kids who come out of post-secondary education to hit the ground running, and in many cases that's just not the case.
    So I don't know. I really wish I had the answer to that one.

  (1630)  

    We're all looking for that answer also, so if you have any more suggestions, the door is open.

[Translation]

    Mr. Tremblay, I really appreciated your presentation. Last week, I was with Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, when he announced 10,000 new paid internships, with an investment of $221 million. That is good news. With a transparent and participatory bid process, the Mitacs group will be able to do good work with organizations like yours. I gather that it has 25 offices in Canada. Being in touch with that group from now on could be a good way to ensure a role in the situation.

[English]

    Thank you.
    Mr. Sangha.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    My question is for Mr. Tremblay.
     I understand your university is engaged in a study called “from learning to work student survey”. It's a national study. You told us in your presentation that you have two types of objectives for the co-op students: number one, give them practical experience; and, number two, give them part-time jobs so they can meet their financial requirements as well as learn on the job.
    How hard do you you think it is for these co-op students to find placement after you prepare them in your university?
    In fact, it's quite easy for co-op students to find a job after that. More than 50% of the co-op students find a job in the same company where they did their work term, so that really facilitates the transfer from school to work.
    In fact, right now, within three months, 98% of our students find a job in their field of study. That's quite impressive.
     Do you think the federal government can do something to facilitate corporate co-op placements?
    The federal government is one of our largest employers. In fact, at the University of Ottawa, they have a couple of thousand work terms a year, and I think 50% of those work terms are within the federal government, so that's really something. The federal government is a really good partner for co-op programs.
    You've said that all three, the universities, the students, and the employees, have good collaboration with each other, so students who are going from one place to another don't have any problems.
    From what I know, we don't have any problems with the federal government as an employer.
    You don't find any obstacles in your way in terms of getting students for jobs for your programs?
    From Sherbrooke's point of view, no, we don't have any major issues. Sure, last year we had a problem with the Phoenix pay system, but I think we're not alone on that, so I won't comment. With Environment Canada, for example, we have a really good partnership in our environmental programs. Let's say that it's not perfect, but I've seen worse.
    Is your program good for all types of trades, technical, science, law, and other fields?
    Again, from what I know, because I don't have the particularities of every program—we have more than 48 programs—in the federal government, we have someone in programs in environment, engineering, and in mathematics, with Statistics Canada, and with administration. We have students in law, too, with the policy office of the federal government.
    Can you tell me something about the research program your university is doing? How is your university participating in that research program?

  (1635)  

    I'm sorry. I missed something there.
    Can you tell us more about your research project and your university's participation in the research program?
    Originally, I think, that research program originated from the University of Waterloo. The central co-op office is at Waterloo. They ask every university and college that has co-op programs to send them all the statistics and information. Waterloo will do the compilation and make it available to everyone. So far, that's all I can say, because I don't have a lot of information about it. I'm sorry.
    Thank you.
    What are your suggestions to the committee for improvements for your program?
    To that, I will say to work with Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada, our association. We've worked together for more than 50 years. We have universities all across Canada. I think it would be a good start if we can find a way for our organization to start, let's say,

[Translation]

    an ongoing dialogue with the government and this committee.

[English]

    I find you at number one in Quebec and number 10 in institutions in North America. Your programs are doing well. At this level, my question is, do you suggest any further improvements so this committee can assist you to do more, to do a better job?
    Very briefly, please.
    Very briefly, I will say to make sure that our association has a say

[Translation]

    in the new programs that you are going to put in place before they are implemented. It would be a lot easier.

[English]

    Thank you, sir.
    MP Vecchio, please. Welcome back, by the way.
    I'll start with Mr. Slaney.
    You talked about people being highly educated but finding no jobs. I've met with organizations, including the Workforce Development Board, that's within my local area.
    I have some questions for you specifically. Do we see anything changing in our colleges and universities to make sure that the skills training people are receiving matches the jobs that are available today? If not, how can we do better?
    In our case we're dealing with trades and technologies. We don't have the issues because we deal directly with our clients' owners and contractors and they tell us. We have joint committees that we work with. We meet with these people all the time and they say, “We need this, this, and this, and we have this particular job coming up.” We try to do a future forecast, as I was saying. We basically plan for a project that might never happen, so we have to be ready to train people just in time for that particular program. Being able to sit down with industry and get exactly what their plans are is the challenge because they don't want to sit down with just anybody.
    Absolutely.
    A lot of times they have competitors that are bidding for the same work and we're talking to both of them, so they only give us so much information.
    Absolutely. That's something we really need to focus on as well.
     Alain, maybe you can assist me with this as well.
    A lot of time we are finding that people are graduating from skills programs but the schools are a few years behind what the actual industries need.
    What are we doing to ratify that issue?

[Translation]

    Since we are in constant contact with employers and we sit on the program committees of various faculties and schools, we can tweak the programs very quickly. That is the beauty of co-op programs. In engineering and computer science, there is a lot of demand right now. However, we have been able to suggest that the Faculty of Science integrate certain elements from the mathematics and physics program, so that, in terms of information technology, companies can also benefit from our students' knowledge of mathematics and science. That's what needs to be done, given the significant labour shortage in this area.
    I would say that we are able to act fairly quickly because of our relationship with businesses. We will always have a slight delay, but it is only about six months at the moment.

  (1640)  

[English]

    Awesome.
    Colleen, specifically, you're dealing with a lot of youth that are going to be.... What's the ceiling, 17 or 18, to come into this?
    Their 19th birthday.
    Their 19th birthday.
    You're dealing with a lot of youth that are trying to make those really difficult decisions. I heard Ruth say it. They're 17 and trying to figure out what they're going to do with the rest of their lives.
    Is there anything available? I recognize a lot of times it's at-risk youth or youth that already have some complications and challenges and barriers already that we need to deal with. Do you know if they have proper counselling when it comes to job and employment counselling? Is there anything available for students that you're aware of that will help them? I know sometimes the guidance counsellors back in the eighties were very pro university and now we're recognizing how colleges have such strengths as well.
    Is there anything available in your communities that you're aware of that help children as well to get on that right path so that they can make some of these decisions? Sometimes it is very early but is there anything available?
    I can talk about what we have available at the Boys and Girls Club. We have homework clubs. That's probably our primary program across the country. We also have Raise the Grade, which is a really great program. It's a one-on-one mentorship program where we match a student. You can start in grade 8 and go up to grade 12 in Ontario, or whatever your last grade is. Basically, your mentor will help you figure out what you want to do. If you want to be a pharmacist, for example, you would find out what courses you have to take in high school and what would be the path. They look at college versus university.
    For a lot of the kids who come to the Boys and Girls Club nobody in their family has gone on to post-secondary education. They don't really know what's available out there and how much it's going to cost. That's the other piece that's really important to consider, that financial literacy piece. Kids need to know what those costs are because we don't want kids graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. That's something we're also focusing on.
    Excellent.
    Ruth and Orville, you're dealing with a very special and unique group of children and youth that we need to look at. Are there any barriers that the federal or provincial government are putting up for the youth that we should be aware of? Are there any of those challenges, or is a lot of it more with the domestic...within the community? Are we as a government causing any barriers for them as well?
     Well I'm not sure if this is a useful answer, but the program length is very, very short, and we're trying to deal with issues that need more time to deal with. I would think that, in a way, inhibits progress in many instances for us.
    I think that the government needs to recognize mentorship as a key component to the success of their growth. It's not a tangible number that you can indicate at the end of a program, it's just the planting of a seed.
    We used to have in-house counsellors when we initially started, and the federal government was very open to that. However, as time progressed and money was getting tight, those things were pulled. Our programs used to last six months. Now they last 17 weeks. Those are a set-up for failures.
    Who is that funded by? Is it provincial or federal?
    It's federal.
    Thank you.
    Now over to MP Robillard, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Good afternoon.
     My questions go to you, Mr. Tremblay.
    In your opening remarks, you said that more than 1,000 employers all around the world trust the Université de Sherbrooke and its student clientele to carry out major projects and prepare the next generation.
     Could you elaborate on what you mean by “employers all around the world”? Could you give us examples of international employers who participate in your internship and placement services?
    How did they come to do business with you?
    I could talk about Microsoft, Tesla, Yahoo and a number of companies from Silicon Valley. The students are often the ones who approach the employers. Students who have good results will be invited to apply. They will then be able to do an internship.
    About 6% of our students do internships outside Canada, and some of them may end up at Bosch or other German companies. For example, this year, some people ended up at BMW, Bosch and various groups like that.
    In Sherbrooke, the language imposes a limit, even though the majority of our students are bilingual. The situation is not the same as at the University of Waterloo, where about 25% of internships are outside Canada. They are talking about 600 internships a year, whether in China, Hong Kong or elsewhere. They have the networks they need to do that.
    In Sherbrooke, we are a little timid about that. Often, the students are the ones knocking on the doors of the world's major companies. When one of our students does well, they become an ambassador. Those big companies will then offer us internships that we will be able to suggest to our students.

  (1645)  

    Could you tell us more about the support you provide to your students who are starting an internship?
    Essentially, there's a meeting for students before they start their internships. We want to make sure they have the right attitude, among other things. In the first internship, we systematically visit all the students.
    During the second, third, fourth and fifth internships, our focus is more on the needs. After the internship, there is a meeting with the students, highlighting the skills they have acquired, in order to improve their resumés and prepare for other internships.
    That's the gist of the co-op program in terms of accreditation. To be accredited, to receive Canadian co-op accreditation, we must provide those services before, during and after the internship.
    That's excellent.
    In terms of the tools available to young people and how our institutions prepare them for the job market, how does Quebec fare? What is the main challenge you are seeing and what solution are you proposing?
    In my previous career, at the Université de Sherbrooke's School of Management, we had programs in Europe, Africa and Latin America. I can say that Canadian universities in general, and Quebec universities in particular, rank extremely well internationally. We have a good reputation. We are very practical. The teaching is practical. If we compare ourselves to French universities, which are very theoretical, we are extremely practical. That's why we rank well. It is something we must maintain.
     We must ensure that we have programs to help companies hire students. Quebec has a tax credit that can reach up to 40% of the salary. Through the federal government's student work-integrated learning program, a $5,000 grant is available to employers. The grant may be in addition to the provincial tax credit. In that sense, I think we need to help the next generation by enabling businesses to access programs promoting the hiring of our students.
    Okay, thank you.
    I will be sharing the rest of my time with Mr. Morrissey.

[English]

     Thank you, Chair.
    My question and comment is for Ms. Mooney. Part of your question was regarding how you entice private sector employers to take advantage of some of the programs you're doing. I was a private sector employer who took youth, especially disadvantaged youth, and on a few occasions after I agreed to it, I wondered what did I get myself into.
    That is a big pool that is underutilized. In order to utilize it, the organization has to walk in line with the private sector, providing more support for the employer to get through the unknown. Could you comment on that?
    I think you're 100% right. That is something we have been spending a lot of time looking into at the Boys and Girls Club. For example, in Ottawa, we've convened something we call the leadership round table, where we've invited everybody who does leadership training—the City of Ottawa and many other non-profits—to participate. We're looking for best practices, training in social skills, and we're trying to work toward having a consistent leadership certificate in the city of Ottawa, so that if you go to an employer with your certificate, the employer knows it means x, y, and z, and that you will have had lots of training in those different areas.
    I think there is a piece around training and support ongoing. I really liked what Mr. Tremblay said about how they visit people when they're in their stage. That's a really great way of doing that, as well. That's why we love the skills link program so much, because it allows us to work hand in hand with the private sector employers and have more of a joint training initiative.

  (1650)  

    Thank you. We'll come back to you afterward, Bob.
    Next we are going to MP Wong for five minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses from different parts of the nation. I have questions for almost every one of you.
    First of all, Mr. Tremblay, I worked very closely with the Université de Sherbrooke when I was the minister for seniors, and we will make sure that your university gets all the funding and that Quebec gets all the funding they deserve.
    Going back to some of the issues you brought forward, I have two things: first of all, language, so French as a second language or English as a second language; and second, the combination of skills and the language. When I was working for Vancouver Community College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University, we also had what we call combined skills. In your case it's French, and in B.C. it is English as a second language combined with skills. It's a very successful program. There's another program where we provide our university students with a very good experience overseas. It's the student mobility project. I was heading that project when I was at Kwantlen.
    Do you think these two areas would help your students? Would they give youth better opportunities to succeed in the workplace?

[Translation]

    Of course, language is a major issue. At the moment, because of Quebec's Charter of the French Language, universities are required to provide French-language instruction first. However, there are opportunities for teaching in English as a second language. The university's School of Management now has a so-called “bilingual“ program, in which one-third of courses are delivered in English and two-thirds in French. It's allowed. Given the openness to the world, we have no choice but to start operating like that.
    Furthermore, we have also started offering double degrees, which is new. It is possible, for example, to obtain a degree with a major in economics and a minor in taxation. We are starting to do this more and more. We also have an MBA/Law program, which allows students to earn a law degree and, towards the end of their courses, they continue the law degree by adding a course in administration. We have this for law and life sciences. Students study law, then they complete a master's degree in life sciences, so that they can represent pharmaceutical companies, among others. We are increasingly working on double degrees.

[English]

     Thank you.
    My next question is for Ms. Mooney from the Boys and Girls Club. There's one thing I'm specifically interested in, and that is the number of weeks for the summer student program.
     For the past nine years, that's been a very good program for my riding of Richmond Centre, but both the employers and the students who reported back to me said the number of weeks has been cut in half. You mentioned that, now for university students, it is no longer 16 weeks, but eight weeks. For both the employer and the employee, do you think that length should be kept at 16 weeks for university students?
    Yes, I would love to see it go back to 16 weeks, because, as I said before, they're not getting a great work experience in eight weeks. That's one of the things, and 16 weeks allows many students to see different parts of the workplace, not just one. The other thing is that tuition is just so expensive these days, especially for the kids we see at the Boys and Girls Club, that they have to be working the 16 weeks. Often what happens, what we see, is that a great student who we would love to hire says, “No, thank you” to us, and ends up working somewhere else, such as in fast food or something, just because they can be guaranteed the 16 weeks.

  (1655)  

    My next question is open to all of you.
    We mention a lot of times that employers are very important, the private sector, and in the past, we used to have an employee panel for people who would like to hire youth with challenges, and not just youth, adults as well. The main reason for that panel is to ensure that they see this as very beneficial to hire young adults who are physically or mentally challenged, because they are very faithful workers. They are punctual, and they are a very good add-on.
    Again, when I was the minister for seniors, we used that model to employ a panel for family caregivers so that family caregivers also would be able to be supported by employers.
    Can any one of you shine a light on the need for employer panels to get private sector support?
    We're out of time, but I'll allow for a very brief answer.
    I think it would be good to give us a perspective of the expectation that they're looking for. For us, really quickly, we do walk with the employers, we go visit. We presented that the probation period is like try before you buy.
    We have a wage subsidy program where we add on $6 an hour to the employer, and we tell them that we will be the mediator between the two as the individual grows in their company.
    Thank you.
    Now over to MP Sansoucy for three minutes, please.

[Translation]

    My first question is for you, Ms. Mooney. You told us that recent immigrant youth and indigenous youth are participating in your programs. Are those programs for them specifically or do they participate in regular programs?

[English]

    They participate with the regular program, with all of them. It's interesting. I've had a number of parents say to me that they sent their kids to the Boys and Girls Club to learn what it is to become Canadian, and I love that.
     We try to integrate learning, though, from other cultures. For example, we have a great program that's running at the Vanier clubhouse right now. It's called “art now”, and it's basically introducing indigenous art forms to multicultural children. It's such a great program. We've had so many aboriginal elders come in and teach visual arts, dance, and music, so I think that's an example of our being very inclusive.

[Translation]

    Thank you.
    My next question is for the representative from the United Association Canada.
    Mr. Slaney, you briefly told us about an apprenticeship and friendship program in place.
    Could you describe more specifically how it works? You quickly said that it was a tripartite program, but what role does each party play in implementing your program?

[English]

    I'm not quite clear on the question.

[Translation]

    Your apprenticeship or friendship program, how does it work?

[English]

    We have apprenticeship programs that are under the Red Seal program, yes. All of our apprentices go through the Red Seal program, so it's nationally mandated, provincially implemented, and that kind of thing. Is that what you're asking?

[Translation]

    Yes. You mentioned that it operates in a tripartite manner. What is the employer's role when the apprentice is paired with an employee? What is the role of the employee supporting the apprentice? What is your organization's role in supporting this learning?

[English]

     We are doing a program right now with the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. It's a perfect example of what you're asking. The program is called REWARD. We are working with the clients and owners at Irving, and we've brought in some new apprentices for high-level welding specialities. We are providing training at our facilities in Saint John, New Brunswick. They are providing the work for them, and they've guaranteed them three years of work. We are going to make sure that we meet the requirements the refinery needs for its speciality piping. There is a very small percentage of welders who can actually do that.
    That's a kind of three-piece approach. We also have government as part of the inspections branch and part of the apprenticeship branch. We have four or five levels of government involved as well. It's truly tripartite, in my opinion, where we have government, labour, and the apprentice—the most important person—involved. Everybody has a stake in the game, and everybody knows what the stake is. We have it all listed out and identified. Everybody knows what their expectation is. If they don't perform, they don't continue to work there.

  (1700)  

    Thank you very much.
    That brings us to the end of the second round of questions. Traditionally, we try to wrap up with one additional question from each side. If we can stick to five minutes for those questions, folks, that will give us about 15 minutes to do some committee business.
    We're going to start with Mr. Blaney.
    Mr. Slaney, you mentioned that you're looking for job opportunities. Are there some shortages of trade in your area? Are there enough kids going in the programs where there are job demands?
    It's not an issue for us to get people. The issue is getting the work for them and getting them to continue this employment so they can complete their apprenticeship. That's always the issue.
    You have enough workforce. For you, it's to find them a job.
    Our work is cyclical, as you know—construction, service, maintenance, all those things. It comes and goes, boom and bust. We just got a forecast from BuildForce, which says that in the next 10 years it's going to be flat everywhere except Ontario. There's going to be a small percentage of increase in Ontario in construction, housing starts, and all those things, economics basically, and everywhere else it's either going to go down or stay level.
     We have a challenge in the next five to 10 years to get people to come into the trades and be gainfully employed, and keep them there to replace the workforce that's going to be exiting. That's our biggest challenge.
    You would say that you have enough people to meet the need at this time.
    We do, yes, for our specific area of work, but other trades don't. There are certain shortages in other trades.
    In welding, we have specialty welders. We have a huge need for that. For instance, in Alberta, which has a massive intake of foreign workers, something like 78% of the workers they bring in from other countries are welders. They source them from 60 or 70 different countries.
    Alberta's gone flat right now, so there isn't much happening there, but that need is still there in other areas of the country.
    Thank you.
    Before I share my time with my colleague, I just want to thank every one of you for sharing your thoughts. This will be very helpful. It's our second meeting, and we are certainly getting into it.
    Mr. Chair, I will share my time.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you very much, again.
    My question is directed to the two Lees. You probably know one of the Lower Mainland agents. I've been working and volunteering for them a lot. It is a success. They are also working in the tri-city area. They might be one of your potential partners.
    Some of the successful programs they have had are for youth entrepreneurship. Like you, they have pre-screening, to see whether they can be good business people. Another thing is entrepreneurship for first nations kids. They've done very well. Unfortunately, some of the funding has been cut, and they're still waiting.
    Would you like to do the same kind of programming, youth self-employment, in your area as well?
     When we started those were some of the things we wanted to bring to the table, but because of funding obviously and things of that nature, we couldn't really get there. You are correct that many of the youth we see have that desire but whether because of barriers or funding, it hasn't been possible.
    The thrift store is a platform we want to try to launch. That, I think, will encourage more entrepreneurship.

  (1705)  

    You also have experienced some challenges regarding some vulnerable kids. Some of them may have come from refugee families, and some of them are probably new immigrants.
    What do you see really meeting the needs of these young people before they can have enough confidence to go into the workplace or to training?
    I think the confidence level is low when they can't speak English. We try to partner with DIVERSEcity, with S.U.C.C.E.S.S., and people like that. It goes back to the wait-list. If they're not quite ready or they feel they're lacking that skill, then we funnel them back there. We work closely with them, and then we bring them back.
    Regarding the length of training, I can see that six months is probably a very good half-year program. I used to be able to run that too. Unfortunately, yours is now 13 weeks only.
    Do you see a great need for the government to put more money into it and make it even more successful?
    Yes.
    Thank you.
    Now, we'll move to MP Morrissey again.
    Thank you, Chair.
    On that point, funding always seems to be the issue and the government is constantly being challenged, a lot from the opposition, to balance the budget. The face of balancing the budget is some of the people you represent.
    We look at it differently. These are investments in the future because if we miss the people, especially Orville Lee, Ruth Lee, and Colleen Mooney, then there's a substantive cost.
    Our government has doubled the Canada summer jobs program. We have put significant new money into the whole skills suite of programs that the federal government does. But we recognize there are still more challenges. We did not cut those programs; they were cut by the former administration.
    You represent a group that I very much lobby for. An issue I think you should be aware of is, on some replacement jobs Service Canada will reach out to the MP's office and discuss with the MP the length of the student placement, so if they have a need for longer they should be interacting with the MP's office to pass that on.
     Mr. Lee, you referenced a customized program, taking somebody through who's now a success. What was the cost of that success for the student you identified?
    That's interesting. I can't give you that dollar value.
    Can you give a ballpark?
    We only get four hours of time with Scott per week. The cost for our staff to be there is $23 an hour.
    So the cost is minor compared to the impact of taking that person whom you identified and successfully transitioning them to a job.
    If I could sum up, prevent is better than cure.
    At one point a few years back, it cost us $325,000 to help 45 kids in one year, but then the government took it and put it with people in the jails to increase that amount. To house one youth in juvenile jail it costs $100,000.
    I asked that question.... It's $100,000.
     It's $100,000. For us to deal with 45 kids at $325,000, why wouldn't we want to invest that?
    When was this cut?
    I would say about four or five years ago. We're looking at 45 kids, if not saved, would cost us $100,000 each. Why not invest the $325,000?
    Unless you put that human face on it, sometimes the system overlooks.... I really appreciate your coming in and identifying it, because one time I tried to find that ballpark number, because if we're going to target funding....
    This is my last question for Colleen, Ruth, and Orville. If you were going to advise Parliament on where it should target its limited resources, because we do have to be fiscally prudent, and this government has put substantive new resources in this whole suite of programs, where would you continue to focus on?
    I would ask all three of you to quickly comment.

  (1710)  

    I would certainly focus on new Canadians because the schools are overwhelmed, quite honestly, and they are really having a lot of difficulty servicing these kids and getting them the language. These are kids who don't speak English or French and are all of a sudden thrown into the school system, and they really struggle.
    I think there has to be additional supports, and that's what we're seeing. Those are the kids who come to our homework clubs every day after school. They're terrified at school because they can't understand. They don't feel very bright because they can't do it. With 30 kids in a classroom, it's pretty tough to pay attention to those few who aren't getting it.
    I think we've put it under mental health.
    Mental health?
    Yes, because it's an umbrella to all diverse people.
    Yes. The demographics we're dealing with cannot be ignored. It's growing exponentially. I'm not sure if it's being reflected, the number of individuals who have multiple barriers, different mental health conditions. As we used to say back in football, you're only as strong as the weakest link, so we definitely need to put attention, effort, and funding into that demographic. It's actually scary.
    It strings to many things because they self-medicate, which goes into the drug sector. They steal, which goes into the realm of jail time. It branches out into an evil road.
    Thank you. That's it.
    We have MP Sansoucy for the next five minutes.

[Translation]

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Tremblay, earlier, we talked about your placement service after graduation. But your notes say that you also assist students after their internships. Are we to understand that a placement service is also offered to graduates even after they leave the institution?
    Yes, graduates have access to our bank and the jobs that people send us for a period of two years after graduation.
    The data we obtained from our study show that young people are often the first to be fired in cases of downsizing, because they have less seniority, of course.
    Some graduates also don't find jobs when they leave university and therefore are unemployed for a while before landing a first job. In your experience, does this period of unemployment, or this gap in their resumé, between the end of their training and their first job, affect their transition into the job market?
    If students absolutely want a job in their field, that's when it becomes difficult and the gap can grow. Right now, we tend to see that students who want to work in fields other than their own will easily find a job within six months of graduation. It may be more difficult to find a job in one's own field, especially for history or geography students, slightly softer subjects, if I may put it that way, for which the market demand is not very high.
    We are juggling the various methods of promotion, but a university student should logically find a job in the first six months after completing their training, regardless of their area.
    Last week, we heard from a youth ambassador for the federal public service, and she said the same thing. She recommended that young people turn to other types of jobs. This is how she ended up getting a job in her field.
    Earlier, we talked about groups, including newcomers, international students and indigenous youth.
    Do you think that some young people from disadvantaged groups are more likely to be unemployed?
    Do programs need to be created specifically for those groups?

  (1715)  

    We call those individuals “emerging students”.
    An article published in La Presse last week indicated that 20% of university students suffer from mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, learning disabilities, the infamous ADHD, and so on. At 20%, this is really one of our concerns. Those students need specific support. We are developing programs for that.
    That said, universities are struggling with this trend, but to a lesser extent, since their students have reached university because they have gone through a certain system.
    In co-op programs, you have to work much more closely with the students to find an internship when the time comes. They must disclose that they are suffering from a disorder. This is voluntary. In that case, we must strive to develop a relationship of trust with them. I think employers are willing to accept them, but you still have to know why they are anxious or distracted or why they can do only one task at a time instead of four. This is a challenge universities will be facing in the coming years.
    Secondary schools have had to deal with it, and so have CEGEPs. Now you do too.
    They are now coming to university.
    Okay.
    Are there professionals or support for that?
    For our study, could you give us any ideas on how to intervene? The purpose of providing specialized supervision is to reduce inequity and to provide equal opportunities for everyone.
    Yes. I think we need to help employers by providing programs to make them aware of this reality. Employers are becoming more aware of this, but we must face the facts: those students need more attention. In that sense, we have to help them.
    So there should be a program for employers, a kind of compensation. These students may end up achieving an equivalent level of productivity, but they need support.
    They need special attention, but most of all, they need us to take the time to talk to them and give them confidence. Once they are confident, they work well. However, between the time they need to gain confidence and the time they start their first job, a lot of effort is required.
    I have read other articles about this. Earlier, you mentioned companies in the computer industry. I have read that employers even turn to people with a form of autism because of their particular abilities. It is clear that it makes them more efficient for certain jobs. You alluded to it earlier. I did not ask you any questions about it because I have worked with clients like that.
    Yes, but they must agree to disclose their disorder. The problem is that, in many cases, young people do not want to do so.
    As soon as they do, we can support them, but when they refuse, they start having all sorts of problems and may end up dropping out.

[English]

     Thank you. I have to cut in. I'm sorry.
    That brings us to the end.
    I have a very brief question just for the record for the Lees.
    You mentioned that for one of your programs you do a $6 an hour top-up. Where does that funding come from?
    It comes from the skills link program.
     Perfect. Thank you. I just wanted to confirm that.
    Thank you all for coming today. We do have to very quickly ask you to leave. We have a very brief amount of committee business to do.
    [Proceedings continue in camera]
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